Bright Lights

NOTES: Sometimes I have no idea where the muses come up with these stories. This is set in the same storyline I've been developing over the past while but again without the marriages and children and such. One of the assassins looks out her bedroom window when she can't sleep at night. As always, Singer belongs to Marvel. The story belongs to me. I wish I could fly.

Singer stared at the ceiling for the better part of an hour before giving in and getting up. The beautiful dark-haired assassin was tired, but couldn't sleep. She had too many things on her mind, and staring at the ceiling wasn't helping. She crossed her bedroom and sat down at the window-seat, wrapping her patchwork quilt around herself. The quilt was one her great-grandmother had made many years before Singer was even born, and had been passed down through the generations. The tradition and family behind the quilt gave Singer a sense of peace and comfort she could get nowhere else.

She looked out the window, a small smile on her face. In spite of the lateness of the hour, there were still cars driving by on the street below, and Singer knew the numerous bars and clubs around the city had not closed for the night yet.

Singer watched the cars drive by for several minutes, and wondered about the people in them. Were they working men and women on their way to or from their jobs? Fathers-to-be going to the store to pick up an elusive item their wives were craving and simply had to have? Teenagers out past their curfews, dreading the scolding they'd get when they arrived home? Young lovers on their way to a bedroom somewhere, their hearts and minds filled with passion and desire? Perhaps some of them were newly-separated or divorced, on their way home to an empty house instead of a loving family.

That last one made Singer's heart ache, and that bothered her. She was an assassin. Things like that weren't supposed to hurt. But for some reason it did, and Singer supposed it was because in spite of her turbulant upbringing in the infamous New Orleans Assassins Guild, she'd always had a family around her. It never mattered to her that affection and hugs and kind words weren't commonplace for the assassins. She knew that in their own way, her family loved her, and that was all she needed.

As the time drifted by, fewer cars drove past the safehouse, and Singer was able to focus more on other things in her line of sight. Like the streetlights. In spite of the dark glasses Singer always wore, she knew they were bright. Brighter even than most normal lights in a house. They had to be, in order to light up the road and sidewalks for people travelling at night. But in Singer's world, in the world of the Assassins and Thieves Guilds, streetlights were a menace, something to be avoided. To the Guilds, streetlights represented being seen and getting caught. The members of the Guilds were creatures of the darkness and shadows, more at home during the nighttime hours than during the day.

In a sense, Singer mused to herself, the lights also aided them when they carried out their jobs at night. They provided the Guilds with the ability to more easily see their targets, whether those targets were people or things, as well as shadows within which the Guilds could hide and lurk.

It was very rare that the Guilds went about their business in the daytime. They preferred to stay hidden and didn't like going out in public during the hours when the general population of New Orleans could see them. On occasion, they had no choice, but if they could help it, they remained safely tucked inside their Garden District home until the sun had set. The sun was a bright light in and of itself and the only time the Guild members ever really enjoyed it's heat was when it was spilling in through the curtains and blinds on the safehouse windows.

Singer giggled to herself and shook her head. That thought made them sound like vampires, which they certainly were not. They didn't like vampires, and Singer knew she wasn't the only one who was glad that Anne Rice wrote so many vampire stories. Those vampires who did decide to stick around New Orleans were even more reclusive than the Guilds, thanks to those novels.

Looking back at the streetlights and the sidewalks below, Singer noticed a solitary figure walking along. She watched him, and titled her head at how quickly he appeared under the light and then disappeared again just as quickly into the shadows. He could have been a ghost for all Singer knew, that was how quick it was. And that was how the Guilds appeared and disappeared if they had to go near the light given off by the streetlights at night. Bright as those lights were, they only showed what was beneath them for a flash of a moment before losing it again into the darkness.

Suddenly, Singer's thoughts drifted to Jean and she sighed, pulling the quilt tighter around her body. Jean Summers was someone who had become a very good friend to the Guilds awhile back, before she had moved to Alaska with her husband. Jean was a mutant with power of the Phoenix Force inside her. The Phoenix Force was something none of the Guild members really understood; all they knew was that it made Jean very powerful, and it gave off a bright light all it's own, perhaps the most dangerous and beautiful light Singer had ever seen. The Guild members had long ago come to terms with the fact that Jean would never be returning to them, but that didn't stop them from missing her. She was special, in more ways than one, and whether she knew it or not, she was cherished by her friends in New Orleans.

As Singer thought about Jean, she realized that part of what made Jean so special wasn't the Phoenix Force, but rather her very own inner light that made her who she was. It was a bright light, filled with warmth and love, and it shone through in everything Jean did or said. It occurred to Singer that everyone had an inner light, some brighter than others, that made each person shine. The Guild members were all very different from each other; they were all unique and each had his or her own inner light as well, that enabled them to be who and what they were.

Singer smiled to herself and got up. She climbed back into her bed with a peaceful feeling in her heart. She and her family of assassins and thieves were really no different from anybody else, in spite of the way it might seem to outsiders. They might not have cars and normal jobs, but they were human, with faults and virtues just the same as everybody else. They never had to try to be like anyone else, because they already were, in their own unique way.

With that thought, Singer closed her eyes and finally fell asleep, as the light from the moon poured softly into her room through the curtains.